Earlier in an exchange between myself and Mara (found here), my conversation partner made several interesting claims with regards to Islam, for example, the five pillars of Islam (it’s claimed) aren’t moral guidelines, but rather spiritual requirements, furthermore, Mohammad’s teachings, teachings often understood as violent or divisive, are in fact wholly peaceful, even so peaceful as Jesus’ Golden rule of “Do unto others.” Needless to write Mara has an interesting take on Mohammad and Islamic history, it’s interesting, though not uncommon, as nobody would believe in and affirm the goodness of the Mohammad of David Wood, Sam Shamoun or Robert Spencer (prominent speakers against Islam). Rather, because Islam must be true (the Muslim imagines), there’s surely some reasonable explanation so to explain away various distasteful deeds recorded as being done by Mohammad in his lifetime. “Assassinations, forced conversion, sexual assaults and child abuse aren’t always as they appear!” Muslim believers often insist, although they do stop short of that classic line “She wanted it!” in defense of Mohammad’s seemingly horrid example of how not to behave.
Nonetheless, my questions of Mara today aren’t exactly about history, but of what Muslims are supposed to do with history now that they have it, meaning, do Muslims follow the commands of who appeared to have been a ruthless, perverted and violent robber, or would everybody be better off dropping “The prophet” from Mohammad’s name? In fact, “Mohammad” meaning “the one worthy of praise” (if they’re not praiseworthy in the least) should be dropped too. Mara however, being a kind, loving and thoughtful person, one who I admire for their openness and humour, hasn’t budged yet, insisting there are excellent answers to my doubts, let’s read on and find out if they’re right.
[A brief side note: I’m going to be quoting Islam traditions (or Hadiths as they’re commonly known), these like many portions of Islamic writing are extremely sexual in nature, even depicting situations of kidnap, rape and child abuse. So disturbing are some of these things that people who self-identify as Muslim often refuse availing themselves of the material. If you’re of an uncomfortable disposition around such things, maybe my upcoming conversation (and Islam) isn’t for you.]
OldSchoolContemporary: That’s alright, in fact, the first message me and Ivy shared was about an event that went on at the Stonewall inn, about which we both agreed it’s terrible when people abuse others sexually and take away their dignity for selfish reasons. You certainly deserved better than that.
That’s partly why your comment about Mohammad being something of a woman’s rights advocate, even a feminist, appeared so peculiar when reading material which early Muslims wrote about his battles and spoils of war. These were women, innocent married women, but they’re called spoils of war as if they’re a prize for Mohammad and other Muslims to rape and sell as sex slaves.* It’s very sad to know how badly you’ve been treated in the past, and hopefully from today onward you can find people, or already have people, who love and respect you. Although about our conversation, if you’d like to stop because it’s upsetting, please do, I’d hate to upset you further. Though if you’re happy to read further, or perhaps later, I’ve got a few other points, points which due to me being a non-Muslim I’d value your perspective on. 🙂 Muslim writers, and as you’ve explained the context should show us what the Quran is saying, wrote the following about Mohammad:
1. A’isha reported that Allah’s Apostle married her when she was seven years old, and he was taken to his house as a bride when she was nine, and her dolls were with her; and when he (Mohammad) died she was eighteen years old. (Reference Sahih Muslim, Book 008, Number 3311)*
So, Mohammad, and again you’re free to wait for awhile before replying, Mohammad while in his fifties really married a 9 year old child and raped her? She couldn’t consent of course, she was 9, and in other books Aisha explained she didn’t know what was happening to her. I’m also not an Islamic scholar, Mara, but this seems very wrong to me. This is child abuse, not women’s rights.
Muslims also wrote: 2. Mohammad said, “Isn’t the witness of a woman equal to half of that of a man?” The women said, “Yes.” He said, “This is because of the deficiency of a woman’s mind.” (References Bukhari 48:826).
So, Mohammad called woman stupid, mentally lesser than men are. How do you feel about this?
And even the Quran has similar writings, they seem pretty self-explanatory too: 3. Men are the maintainers of women because Allah has made some of them to excel others and because they spend out of their property; the good women are therefore obedient, guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded; and (as to) those on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them, and leave them alone in the sleeping-places and beat them; then if they obey you, do not seek a way against them; surely Allah is High, Great. (Reference Quran 4:34).
Lastly Muslim men are allowed to banish women they’ve married into other beds, and even use physical violence if they fear disobedience. They’re allowed to beat women according to Islam. Do these words still lead to women being hurt today?
I’ve enjoyed speaking with you thus far though, I’ve also learnt a lot, hopefully you’re not too upset by the topic, it’s something I think women everywhere would want to read about and know the truth. It’s important.*
Ivy Willow: Thank you for your input as well ^.^ I think, probably, we should discontinue this particular thread. I would be happy to continue further conversation, but as a survivor as well, I feel like it’s started being pounded on to hard. No offense to you or Mara. I’m glad for open conversation, and it’s gone well thus far, but it’s starting to spiral into a repetitive mess that I’m afraid will start getting out of hand *hugs to all*
*though, it does look like it’s coming to a close, so this comment may be entirely redundant, in which case, sorry you two o.o
OldSchoolContemporary: No need to write sorry! You’ve been an awesome moderator. I’m sure both myself and Mara will do lots of reading on the subject in the future. 🙂 Maybe when they’re feeling up to it they’ll want to continue sharing on the topic. Until then it’s fine to let everything think about what’s already been shared.
Mara: Thank you so very much for the consideration, I greatly appreciate it. I apologize if I’ve seemed standoffish up to this point. The political climate where I live creates a great distrust towards Muslim individuals. I’ve had more than my fair share of insults hurled at me, and almost never is someone interested in general discussion like this. Outside of the parts I’m having difficulty with, I’m genuinely enjoying this conversation.
I never once mentioned that Mohammad was a women’s rights activist, nor a feminist like your post implies. I never mentioned that, as I don’t believe it. I did mention that he had a great respect for women, which he did, in historical context. He allowed divorces, property rights, worked to stop female infanticide, allowed woman to testify, etc…These are things that are very significant given the time period.
Woman were still treated disgustingly (even by Mohammad), a point I won’t argue, but it was a very huge step in the right direction, when compared to the idea of many of those around him.
Oh, it most certainly is child abuse. While a prophet, he was human. From what I remember, his marriage to her was for more political reasons, but it doesn’t make her treatment any less deplorable.
Islam certainly has many passages of a very passionate and biased nature towards women. But I would assume Christianity and Judaism would fall along the same paths in their treatment towards women. It was a terrible cultural belief and practice relevant to that time period. When taken literally and without any sense for the climate during which it was written, I have no doubt that it has caused harm, as I assume most religious doctrine have.
Therein lies the slight distaste in my mouth for organized religion, Islam included. I think they’re taken for too literally, without concepts like Ijtihad being applied.
I’d be curious though, to know what religions haven’t ever preached or practiced a form of discrimination towards someone. Not trying to justify it, just curious.
Ivy Willow: Christianity and Judaism absolutely have the same issues with their stances toward the treatment of women.
Mara: That makes me sad 😦
Ivy Willow: It is. There are a multitude of reasons I have disdain for religion in general. Even Buddhism sees women as lesser. If you f*** up your life as a man, you reincarnate as a woman, because they are lesser. On the flip side, if you live your life well as a woman, you upgrade in the next life to a man…*
*Mara and Ivy’s exchange also makes people well-read on world religions “sad”, although be it for very different reasons. Religious relativism, so ingrained in our two cultures respectively (America and the UK), has many young people incapable of thinking on the subject of comparative religions, as people appear today willfully unable to discern nuances and jumbo jet sized differences between different religions. Just think on it yourself, these are religions which came about in different centuries (even over a thousand years apart), in different ethnically divided cultures, by different people, yet they’re being judged as if they’re no different.
OldSchoolContemporary: That’s perfectly fine, and it looks like Ivy and myself book-ended the conversation far too early. I’d imagine the kind of frosty reception you’re getting comes a lot from people thinking everybody is alike, meaning no matter how loving, goodhearted and respectful you are, people are going to see you as whatever they’d like to. It’s rarely ever about you though, so don’t let it knock your spirit.
Insofar as I’m reading, Mohammad simply married and consummated with Aisha because he’d said he had seen her in a dream. That’s the plain reason, not reading anything about politics from the original material. Aren’t lots of these things unworthy of today though, you’re writing how you think Mohammad wasn’t all bad compared to the people around him, but by today’s standard’s they’d be put in prison for kidnapping women and charged with pedophilia, just from the standpoint of our diverse and respectful society. Nobody can write these things about the Buddha or Jesus, they’d never take away a person’s human rights or abuse a child of 9.
You finish your message by asking: ‘I’d be curious though, to know what religions haven’t ever preached or practiced a form of discrimination towards someone.’ The answer: Jediism. But seriously, isn’t every religion as different as the person, people or God behind them? For which some will be totally harmless, whereas others wouldn’t.*
Mara: I think you might have missed my point ever so slightly.
I’m not saying that what he did was right or correct. I’m saying that by the standards of the culture he lived in, he made positive steps forward.
Again, I think it all comes down to interpretation. Look at the KKK, they’re a terror based ‘christian’ organization.*
There have been Buddhist terrorists…
I will agree that Islam does have a propensity to have quite a few more deeply unsavory elements, but I think that brings us back to two things.
1. The writing was dramatized for flavor.
2. The style in which Islam was written is slightly different from others. For example, we have such a brutal narrative as these events were recorded as they transpired, and to this day, only one version of the events exist.
Take Christianity for example, it was written a lifetime later, and has been edited, revised, re translated, re-thought, selectively chosen, etc countless times. Who knows what such an editing process has changed.
The recording process is a significant piece of modern knowledge, and a reason why Islam is so brutal. It’s a very gritty look at life in that time.
OldSchoolContemporary: Good morning, Mara! About your reply last night, which read: ‘Again, I think it all comes down to interpretation. Look at the KKK, they’re a terror based ‘christian’ organization. There have been Buddhist terrorists…’ Rather than my message saying certain people who claim to be acting as Muslims, Jews, Mormons or Christians have behaved in particularly horrid ways, because they have, my message is actually meaning Jesus and Buddha themselves wouldn’t have denied people their human rights, or abused children or acted as guards at auschwitz. So, when the people behind the KKK and others do the things they do, they’re actually shaming themselves and behaving unlike the founder of their faith, whereas when Boko Haram, for example, kidnap hundreds of Christian schoolgirls, rape them, force them to convert to Islam, and sell others as sex slaves, they’re doing exactly what Mohammad did before them. When you’re writing Mohammad wasn’t bad for his time period, although the writings appear very bad, you’re explaining they weren’t the worst for the 600’s, as if to say Mohammad’s example brought people into the 700’s or 800’s, yet, insofar as modern times go, isn’t his example a great leap backwards? You’ve been a better moral example, yet you aren’t the messenger. . .are you?*
Ivy writes how Buddha said women could be reincarnated as men, which we’d all dislike hearing around the dinner table, but nobody would be worried about the Buddha robbing from them, or kidnapping them, we’d be happy to have breakfast with Buddha, but tea with Mohammad, with all respect to you, sounds like you’d be fighting for your dignity/life. An example, again by Muslim writers, says Mohammad beheaded between 600 and 900 boys and men in a trench, isn’t there some limit to how badly a person can behave?
About the portion you’ve written later: ‘Take Christianity for example, it was written a lifetime later, and has been edited, revised, re translated, re-thought, selectively chosen, etc countless times. Who knows what such an editing process has changed.’ Yet, ‘within a lifetime later’ isn’t right, Mara, in fact, the German sceptic (and atheist) Gerd Ludemann notes: “the elements in the tradition (Corinthians 15) are to be dated to the first two years after the crucifixion of Jesus…not later than three years…the formation of the appearance traditions mentioned in 1 Cor. 15:3-8 falls into the time between 30 and 33 C.E.”* So, rather than the New Testament material being written a lifetime later, the material within the New Testament has been written no further than 3 years after Jesus’ crucifixion, and the tradition upon which the material is based goes back to 30AD, so on the crucifixion year itself. We couldn’t get any closer to the event. The Gospels themselves can be shown to have been written before 70AD too, so, that’s also within the lifetime of the eyewitnesses.
Speaking about the extra claims made, is the accusation that because ancient writings were first written on perishable parchment, and needed then to be copied and recopied for extended periods of time, that that which we call The Bible today wasn’t what the original authors actually authored, rather what’s taken place was Chinese whispers (or the telephone game) on an awesome scale, one which has spanned centuries before being finalized? Because that’s how every book, the Quran included, has came down to readers, meaning there’s not much to complain about, right? Actually, whether or not scholars can retrieve the original manuscript is dependent upon how many copies of copies there are in our hands today, and how near they are to the date of the original Scriptures composition.
The fewer copies people have, and the fewer variant traditions, means we’re got less to compare and contrast with, meaning somebody could easily destroy one set of manuscripts and preserve the other, thus making it impossible to find the most accurate copy. Having one copy of Romeo and Juliet means anybody could write anything on its pages!* But if there are thousands across the globe, each copied by different people, then there’s no way to hide what the original said. The New Testament, surprisingly, is the best attested book in history, having over 25,000 manuscripts for the scholars to compare through! What comes in second place to that? Homer’s Iliad, which has only 600 manuscripts. That’s a gap between the New Testament and every other book of around 24,000 manuscripts. In addition, we could reconstruct the entire New Testament even without these manuscripts, how? Through letters written by Christians in which they quote the books of the Bible, due to which research professor of Philosophy John Warwick Montgomery wrote the following: ‘To be sceptical of the resultant text of the New Testament books is to allow all of classical antiquity to slip into obscurity, for no documents of the ancient period are as well attested bibliographically as the New Testament.’ So, to question the New Testament means rejecting every other book.
Likewise Torah material like Isaiah, our earliest copy of the book used to date from 980 AD, due to which many people would write how it’s been edited or revised or changed by people over the ages. Though discovering the Dead sea scrolls meant we’d found a copy from around 157 BC, so there’s over 1000 years between the two manuscripts. Did the two have massive changes? No, in fact, they were word-for-word identical! Textual critics assumed that centuries of copying and recopying this book must have introduced scribal errors into the document that obscured the original message of the author, though that simply never occurred, they’d remained faithful to the original prophet’s true message.*
That’s the point I’m wondering about in the above though, breakfast with the Buddha, and if Mohammad is a bad example for people to follow today, wouldn’t it be better not to?
Mara: I can agree and disagree. First and foremost, that is not the case with the Quran, thus my questioning with the bible. The Quran had many copies made at the time of its creation, some of which exist to this very day, and there is zero variation.
My example with the bible was more along the lines of the sheer amount of different versions of the bible that there are, that they all include different parts, ideas, are selectively created and chosen, etc. There seems to be a lot more customization involved.
The closest generally agreed upon time frame I could find in my research was 54 ad for Corinthians. Even that is approx. 20 some years apart. I can’t imagine writing an accurate story on the conversation we’re having now, 20 years from now without there being some error on my part.* And I don’t believe it’s as dramatic as rejecting other old literature, just recognizing that with this massive game of telephone, that there is the great possibility for change.
We might have to agree to disagree on this one, but I think there is a difference between an account written at the time it occurred, with other witnesses and sources, than a story written years later with resulting stories being based upon one another. I think the latter is far more likely to create an idealized creation than the former.
Well, with your first example, I think you’re being a bit dramatic, and forgetting what I mentioned earlier. Mohammad was a leader, and at times, a political one at that. He made some terrible and disgusting choices to maintain a following, and it’s when people today use the literal example of an early warlord to dictate their actions now without thinking about the time those atrocious things were actually done that there’s a problem.* While we’re far above actions like that now, it wasn’t a discommon practice then. I have said over and over that people can’t take the book literally, and need to interpret it to modern standards, as even the Quran itself tells you to do.
It would be like the KKK using the fact that Jesus accepted slavery to maintain slavery into modern days. While a less dramatic and direct example, it still shows that times were different, and not everything can be taken literally and maintained the way it was. Again, I have never once defended Mohammad as a perfect person. I’ve fully agreed that there was good with the bad. He definitely made strides forward in comparison with those around him, but just like most others in his time he wasn’t without unsavory elements.
Some Muslims believe that as our prophet he must be the perfect moral example, and there I disagree. I believe Mohammad was the perfect Human example, and in that way, a good moral tale. He had his good elements, he had his bad elements. He even had ugly elements. But in that way, he was very human. Thus, I see the Quran and his story as a much more relate able and human story. It shows error, failures of the human character, mistakes, etc. It allows one to learn from the example of Mohammad. To emulate his good, and to learn from his bad. That’s why I personally believe he is a good example to follow to this day.
Would I have breakfast with Mohammad? No. If I insulted him, he’d have me killed. But at the same time, Buddha would slight me for being female, and Jesus would accept if someone kept me in chains at the foot of the table. Are those things better? Slightly. But are they all people with backwards ideas based on the time? Yup.
So do I think we should stop following Mohammad? No. I like following a prophet that is obviously human. I like learning from him. Do I think the idealized and perfect image of him is something to follow? No. Does that answer your question?
As is my habit, I’ve tried to give Mara the last word, with which readers can really allow for their arguments to sink in (only compounding how inaccurate they are insofar as Islam has been understood for over one thousand years). Mara’s good humor and love of people is as ever refreshing, especially so online, though are they truly prepared to look Islam square in the eye, methinks no. They’re instead making an enemy of women into an activist for women, even going so far as to imagine an unrepentant slaver of men, women and children into spokesman for god, which of course makes god into that very same slaver. By opening my copy of Exodus, one worn and well-read King James translation, I’m struck (as was Martin Luther King) by the themes of liberation and freedom from tyranny, freedom which God worked in the lives of those who believed. Yet, because every religion is as good (or perhaps as bad) as the other in today’s mainstream culture, the difference between “what your right hand possesses” and the Bible’s overarching theme of liberation from the jaws of sin and death are to be recast as non-existent, and to even have the integrity to speak truth on the matter would leave people open to being branded as divisive bigots, crocked nails in need of hammering down.
However, it’s tolerance for untruth, even the acceptance of a lie, which brings about the abuse of women under the command of a godless caravan raider speaking for god, even the lie which says for the sake of sparing feelings that truly evil men, men who deserve to be exposed, are better painted as friends of women, children, unbelievers and the same sex attracted, people like Mohammad were however no such people. The peace however must be maintained by holding to lies, lies which insist Islam’s history isn’t one of blood and slaughter, even more peculiar, is that the lie is only insisted upon at gunpoint, as to speak the truth, that truth being that Islam engenders violence and hatred in the propagation of the faith, is met by violence and hatred. It’s as sensible as me punching you in the face because you pointed out I was violent. The most upsetting part of lies which protect Islam is this, no matter how much Mara feels love for homosexuals, transgender people, women and children, Islam is either destroying or abusing them all, Mara cares, they just don’t care enough to stop it.*
― T. C. M